Cubs interested in free-agent righty Ross

Injuries ended pitcher's 2016 season after starting Opening Day for Padres

Cubs interested in free-agent righty Ross

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have made no secret they're looking for rotation depth, and they are reportedly one of the finalists for right-hander Tyson Ross.

Ross talked to the Cubs before the holidays and met with the Rangers on Wednesday. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reported Wednesday that Texas was being aggressive in its pursuit of the right-hander, who won 13 games with a 2.81 ERA in 31 starts in 2014 and posted a 3.26 ERA in 33 starts in '15, both with the Padres.

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MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo's Jeff Passan both reported the Cubs' interest in Ross, 29, who started Opening Day for San Diego before being shutdown due to ongoing shoulder problems, which eventually resulted in surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. The Padres non-tendered him in early December after he made $9.6 million in 2016.

On Thursday, Rosenthal also reported that the Nationals also are in the mix, although he said Washington was a long shot. Ross' younger brother Joe is projected to make Washington's rotation in 2017.

When asked about his brother during the Nationals' WinterFest, Joe Ross said: "I keep joking, telling everyone he can come over here ... as long as he doesn't take my job."

Ross watches his brother pitch

Because the Cubs have five solid starters in Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Mike Montgomery, Ross wouldn't have to be ready by Opening Day. Montgomery could move back to the bullpen when Ross is ready for the rotation.

At the Winter Meetings, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the Cubs' insurance options for the rotation include Rob Zastryzny, Jake Buchanan, Aaron Brooks and Seth Frankoff, who are all projected to start at Triple-A Iowa. Zastryzny was 7-3 with a 4.33 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) at Iowa last season.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.